Most readers of English literature, even at a cursory level, will have read Animal Farm, or at least come across the title or the name of its author, George Orwell.
Those who went beyond a high school reading of Animal Farm will know that George Orwell was the pseudonym for the British writer Eric Arthur Blair.
And those who were intrigued by Animal Farm as more than just another novel will have gone further and read the even more intriguing background of the writer, and how this influenced his writing of that novel and his other popular work, 1984.
Blair, in his youth, dabbled with Marxism at a time the seeds of the Cold War were being sown, and he cultivated a bit of an admiration for Russia. However, that admiration wilted under Stalinist USSR, whose dark streak quickly became a huge splash colouring the entire socio-political and economic system of Russia.
This disenchantment on Blair’s part ran deep, and he flipped right around and became an avowed anti-leftist.
The British security and intelligence establishment was quick to take notice, to appreciate the talent inherent in the young writer, and the potential for plenty of propaganda coups. So they did what any self-respecting hegemony would do: they roped him.
Which is how Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell, was said to be a creative producer for a fairly murky entity called the Empire Marketing Board, whose name speaks for itself to anyone who knows how hard Britain tried to hold onto its colonial holdings.
One of the outcomes of this roping in of Mr Orwell into the British establishment was the publication of such masterpieces as Animal and 1984.
Animal Farm is known all over the world and over the decades as a damning, if satirical, critique of Marxism and Leninism, and by dint of that a not-so-subtle effort to extol the virtues of Western capitalism.
There’s no taking away from Mr Orwell’s literary prowess. Animal Farm is a work of genius, and the same goes for 1984. Never mind the propaganda, never mind the grubby fingerprints of British foreign policy. Mr Orwell produced near-genius level works.
One of the most popular takeaways from Animal Farm, oft quoted by both people who have read the book and those who haven’t, is the line: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The line is usually used to lampoon African governments, which are frequently accused of indulging in primitive accumulation for the elite few while the vast majority wallow in poverty.
But the irony of Mr Orwell’s pot shot at the horrors of unchecked Marxism is that it equally true for the excesses of capitalism in both its economic and political guises.
If in any doubt, take a look around and see how many examples of how the wonderful world order championed by Mr Orwell then and by his incarnations today daily shows us that some animals are more equal than others.
Just last week, The Southern Times spotlighted how there will never be Nuremberg-type justice for the massacres at Cassinga, Sétif, Chimoio and My Lai, among countless others.
Justice, it seems, is easier for the international community to appreciate when it comes to making the Nazis pay for crimes against Jews.
Now that Israel is massacring Palestinians, it is not issue.
We will not hear any of those self-appointed altruists in the international NGO community say or do anything to protect the women and children of Gaza. No. They would rather commit millions to exporting to African countries the kind of slick propaganda Mr Orwell championed.
There will be no George Soros-funded Open Society Initiative for the people of Palestine; there will be no rush by the media to call for the international community to “pressure” Israel to reform; and there will be no American, European or Australian sanctions on the Jewish perpetrators of war crimes and gross human rights abuses in the Middle East.
Why? Because saying such things makes one anti-Semitic and a Holocaust denier. Saying such things shows that one does not appreciate that some animals are more equal than others.
It is the same case with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. It is Africa’s last colony and it is under the oppressive rule of a fellow African country – Morocco.
Some SADC countries, which themselves are former victims of oppressive colonialism, are even pushing for official recognition of Morocco’s colonisation of the Sahrawi people’s land. Because Morocco is rich and the Sahrawi people are not-so-rich poor, we quickly realise that some animals are more equal than others.
So what’s to be done? What can the not-so-rich do to get fairer treatment from the rich?
Well, it all starts with the realisation that we are not as poor as the rich would want us to believe. It is an approach that speaks to us appreciating that we actually own all the natural resources that have made the rich more equal animals than we are.
We have to start walking down the road to true dignity and self-worth, and we need to have at least a modicum of true unity to do that.
It will not be easy to change the status quo in this regard, but no one promised it would be.
What other choice do we have? It’s either we stand up and unite for a world in which all animals are equal, or we continue to wring our hands impotently in the face of more equal animals.